All Your Base Are Google, The Launch

It's happening: Google Base is launching. (Check the Google Blog for a post, I am sure there will be one.) I plan to talk to Google about this, though what with leaving for London and all, I may not be able to. Suffice to say, this is a major…

Googlebot Earth-3

It’s happening: Google Base is launching. (Check the Google Blog for a post, I am sure there will be one.) I plan to talk to Google about this, though what with leaving for London and all, I may not be able to. Suffice to say, this is a major undertaking by Google, and it remains to be seen if the public will take to it. In fact, this is a test of sorts – how large will this get? Will folks trust Google with their data? Will folks see the value in it? Will Google Base become the first application that forces Google to….gasp…market its offerings? As in “List your data on Google Base, the “it” place to represent reality”?

Google is saying this is simply a new way to augment their search results. Google’s right. And that alone makes it one Very Big Deal. From the PR note emailed to me just now:

Today, we launched Google Base a free online service where users can submit all types of online and offline content that Google will host and make searchable online. ….Google Base is an extension of Google’s existing content collection efforts such as our traditional web crawl system, as well as Google Sitemaps, Google Print and Google Video – all which enable content owners to easily make their information searchable via Google. The goal of Google Base is to improve the overall quality and breadth of Google Search results by collecting even more information about a wider diversity of content. ….Similar to a database, Google Base enables content owners to describe and assign attributes to it the information they upload and uses this meta-data to better target search results to what users are looking for. For example, if a chef chooses to upload their very best recipe for tamales he/she can further describe that recipe with a photo or by assigning attributes such as “medium-spicy” or “spicy.” When a user searches for the word [tamale recipes] from the Google Base homepage they will be presented with a list of recipe results accompanied by a list attributes at the top of page which enable them to further refine their search to “medium-spicy” or “hot” tamale recipes.

Rarararararghghghghghghg…this kind of disingenuous exemplar text makes me grind my teeth. This has as much to do with tamales as, well, forget what I have to say about it. Go back to the basics, and once again, read Paul Ford.

Again, from the email:

Google Base also creates a new opportunity for content producers to submit any kind of information even if it’s not a web page or online.

Behold, the physical world rendered as information. One of the main arguments in my book is that if it’s not in the index, it’s not considered valuable in a search-driven world. This, of course, is a new way to Get Into The Index. We’ve only just begun….

24 thoughts on “All Your Base Are Google, The Launch”

  1. There is sooo much more to this that just being in the index. It allow structured and unstructured content to be uploaded. Google currently relies on keywords, which despite all their Ph.D.s and fancy lunches, falls flat on its face when searching for stuff like events, prices, reviews, etc.

    Their upload form in essence is allowing publisher tagging of content (though I’m sure Google will call it labels or something similarly stupid to further inflict their not-invented-here arrogance to the world) with Google controlling the core set of tags, and users being able to put text descriptions, which will be searched via keywords.

    This is significant in that is means that Google must now have scalable structured retrieval technology in addition to its scalable keyword retrieval technology. In essence, it’s a search engine that acts like a database, and a database that acts like a search engine.

    If they did this right, it means they have a scalable XML database, which is a core foundation towards a structured, semantic web search engine.

  2. Let’s not get ahead of the game here. There’s nothing so far indicating that you can use/abuse the database in a structured way. Google has powerful search juju — that goes a long way to plastering over the need for SQL.

  3. It’s odd that Google doesn’t seem to be doing the one thing I thought they would be with this – letting you use Google to serve your own, bounded, database. IE – “check out for my database of tamale recipes” – instead your own data just gets merged automatically with the world’s. I suppose you could give everything in your base the “derbrecipes” tag but that isn’t very elegant (and doesn’t ensure that nobody else can use that tag). Or have I missed something?

  4. Has there been any mention how this will impact the ranking of results? Will this content be higher in the rankings due to it’s labeled format? Google prides itself upon search results being consistent, well how will this new process and format of gathering the data impact the rankings? It sounds like a great way to get content into a structured format, but I wont jump for joy until I see it’s impacts on the SERPS.

  5. John, quick comment. You wrote: Will Google Base become the first application that forces Google to….gasp…market its offerings?

    I think this has actually already happened. For a month or two now, I’ve noticed while watching Nova on PBS that Google is one of the corporate sponsors. Included with that sponsorship is a little 30 second ad for Google search. (You see a Google screenshot, with someone typing “egyptology” and “astronomy” and such.)

    Ok, so some might argue that corporate sponsorship is not “marketing” marketing. Well, just last night I heard a real commercial spot on NPR for Google Mobile. “Go to mobile dot google dot com”, the radio ad told me to do. For information on the move or something along those lines.

    Granted, these ads are on PBS and NPR. Hardly your superbowl halftime commercial, or your primetime network ad. But this just tells me Google is targetting its audience. These ads are still ads. Google has indeed begun marketing.

  6. (interesting: imagine if every construct in 2ndLife were auto-indexed by GoogleBase. forget semantic web — SnowCrash anyone?)

    getting back to more near-term reality: seems like they missed the part where they tell everyone about how developers can build applications on top of GoogleBase. they’ve done the DB layer, but not the application platform layer (yet). if this is just a bigger, more flexible craigslist i’m not that excited. but i think there’s another shoe yet to drop here.

    my bet over the next 12-18 months, we’ll see competitive hosted-DB offerings from Yahoo & Microsoft, along with some kind of app layer and then the race really *will* be on. maybe A9/Amazon and eBay try to put out an offering too.

    at stake: not who can host all the world’s data, but rather who can provide the world’s best application platform & data services… in other words, the canvas for all others to paint on.

    curiouser & curiouser said alice.

    – dave mcclure

  7. BTW, John, when bookreading in NYC you mentioned the possibility to have a special “online person identity” applet in google. Looks like Base got it – one of the things you can submit IS a person.

  8. This is spontaneous information sharing as opposed to sharing via Web sites or Blogs, or the “Group Association” of News Groups.

    “Pure” Document Sharing, taken to another level outside of the customs of the Web.

    Document Storage, for those who just want DRAFT options for their current projects, or privacy to archive online documents or media.

    Or, an informal classified for those who want to be associated with a recognized brand, but without the eBay restrictions.

    This is another brilliant move by Google that will ultimately symbolize the People of the World Coming Closer.

  9. mitch: “app layer”, as in either of

    a) allow hosting of pages / component objects that provide with scripting commands, features & functions, or

    b) allow comprehensive, extensible set of web services that i can incorporate into my own site and/or a browser client.

    in other words, hosting the data by itself is only of limited utility if i can’t do something programmatic with it. Google Maps is a nice start, but there’s a potentially vast range of other hosted web services that would be cool to offer — and cool to build, if i know i can use GoogleBase objects as my data layer & other services as an app layer.

    (think of Google doing Microsoft Visual Studio, but done in a hosted fashion — Yahoo is probably further along than either G or M, but all 3 can play this game if they choose).

    – dave mcclure

  10. google base decievingly looks simple but can cause ripple effects in the entire industry as it grows.

    First fall outs might be vertical search portals (indeed, oodle etc.), next in the line are listing sites such as classifieds, jobs, auctions etc.

    Someone rightly called google as “The Borg,” a reference to an army of creatures in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” that took over civilization after civilization with machinelike precision.

    We might soon see tons of mashup sites which make use of google base apis (if and when they are available)

  11. I like the way they made the tagging system into name/value pairs. This is elegant, because it allows users to simultaneously tag and quantify data. Also, by requiring a name/value pair, it makes a tagging system slightly more difficult for spammers, because it’s just a wee bit harder to plaster posts with “meta tags”.

  12. We are shocked to see how similar it is to ROR. It even provides an XML vocabulary for bulk uploads (just like the ror.xml file). There is a big difference though, Google does not want this structured data to reside on your website (available to other search engines). Instead Goolge will ask you to kindly upload it directly into their database.

  13. Dave Mc (Simply Hired),

    Aren’t you worried about what this will do to simplyhired as an job aggregator? Or for that matter the Job Board market in the US?

    I mean if Google Base starts to build momentum, particularly in the job space, and your advertisers and content providers start realising it is better to place content directly with Google Base (given that at the moment its free) then whamo your revenue has gone. Over night.

    And even if you choose to provide Google Base content yourself, as Simplyhired (through RSS), like Career Builder has, then aren’t you just helping your loyal customers get used to using Google Base as a job aggregator?

    In the end, don’t Google Base win hands down. They can take your content and not only distribute it to a wider market, but through applications such as AdSense and AdWords, they have the bility to serve this infomration into very relevant and ‘higher user behaviour’ situations. This makes the conent very personalised and very relevant. Better than you could ever hope to get on a job board or a plain vanilla search engine. Right?

    Would love to know your thoughts?

  14. James,

    Damn good point. But does it really matter? I mean, either way they will end up dominanting another part of the net. Right?

    The more I think about it the more I think they are becoming another Microsoft. Microsoft decimated the desktop market, if only for a small period. But success turned against them rather viciously.

    Will the same happen to google if programs like Google Base get mass? Or is this all just a storm in a tea cup fueled by a succesful brands poor attemtp to develop something, that not even they know what it will end up being……????

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